PMA and PMMA: Therapeutic use, Treatment. PMA and PMMA rehab.

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 2:51 pm

Official names: Paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA), fourmethoxyamphetamine (4-MA), paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA)
Street names: Death, Mitsubishi double-stack, chicken yellow, chicken powder
Drug classifications: Schedule I, hallucinogen


Key terms

CLUB DRUGS: Mostly synthetic, illicit substances found at raves and nightclubs. This group includes LSD, ecstasy, GHB, Rohypnol, ketamine, and methamphetamine.
DESIGNER DRUGS: Drugs that are produced in an illegal laboratory that are chemically similar to a pharmaceutical drug.
EMPATHOGEN: Any substance that produces feelings of sympathy, closeness, acceptance, and peace with surrounding individuals.



PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) is a synthetic hallucinogen. It has psychoactive effects similar to methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, or ecstasy), another Schedule I hallucinogen. Schedule I controlled substances are defined as having a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. PMA is far more potentially lethal than ecstasy. PMA is most often ingested by drug users who think they are taking ecstasy, and find out too late that they have really ingested PMA, or “death.” Overdose victims suffer an extreme rise in body temperature that shuts down the internal organs, causes convulsions, and often death. Relative to ecstasy, very small quantities of PMA are required for an overdose to occur.
PMMA is an illicit chemical compound that is a structural hybrid of PMA. PMMA and PMA are almost identical compounds. PMMA may also be marketed as ecstasy tablets. In humans PMMA has no known distinction from PMA in Physiological effects. For the purpose of this informational entry, PMA and PMMA will be considered alike.
Club drugs and raves
Both PMA and ecstasy are hallucinogens. The word hallucinogen is derived from the Latin word allucinari which means “to dream, to wander in mind.” Hallucinogens are drugs that produce distortions of reality. Hallucinogens like ecstasy allegedly have euphoric, hallucinogenic, stimulant, and empathogenic effects. Ecstasy also reportedly suppresses the desire to eat, drink, or sleep. This makes it possible for users to remain physically active for extended periods of time. Because of these properties, drugs like ecstasy have become popular at dance clubs and raves.
Raves are all night parties often characterized by loud, rapid music, pyrotechnics, and smoke generators. Rave parties and clubs started to appear in most metropolitan areas of the United States by the early 1990s. Attendance at raves can range from 30 people in a small club to 10,000 people in an open field or football stadium. Many ravers use designer drugs like ecstasy for the euphoric and hallucinogenic effects, and to enable them to dance continuously all night. Raves may even last up to two to three days. Ravers often dance with glow-in-the-dark accessories to enhance their drug-induced visual stimulation. They may use legal substances like Vicks nasal inhalers and Vicks VapoRub to increase the effects of the illicit drugs they use. Because of their popularity at raves and dance clubs, hallucinogens such as ecstasy and PMA are also referred to as club drugs.
PMA toxicity
PMA and ecstasy are both amphetamine-derived, clandestinely manufactured designer drugs produced for the illicit drug market. While PMA does have similar and milder hallucinogenic effects than ecstasy, it is considerably more toxic, dangerous, and potentially lethal. Ecstasy use results in an intense high relatively quickly. The effects of PMA are milder and take a much longer time to develop. When users do not obtain their usual quick and intense high, they assume they have taken weak ecstasy and ingest more pills, resulting in an overdose of PMA. Often within a matter of hours PMA earns its nickname of “death.” The drug user’s body temperature rises rapidly to as high as 115°F (46°C), via a process that is quickly irreversible, even when the individual is hospitalized. Brain seizures, convulsions, breakdown of internal organs, coma, and death often occur. Taking PMA in combination with other drugs, alcohol, or caffeine may promote this process. PMA has been responsible for many deaths in the United States and other countries.
PMA on the ecstasy market
PMA was first clandestinely produced by a Canadian lab in 1973. Subsequently it appeared in illicit drug circulation in the United States. In 1973, PMA was suspected to be the cause of three deaths, and determined to be the cause of two deaths in the United States. The same year, PMA was also the cause of eight deaths in Canada. Due to its high toxicity and weak euphoric effects, PMA quickly went out of vogue and stopped being circulated. No deaths were associated with PMA in the United States or Canada from the year 1974 to 2000. In 1994 PMA appeared in isolated drug communities in Australia, where it was falsely sold as ecstasy and held responsible for 12 deaths. In mid-2000 PMA came back onto the Canadian and United States black market disguised as ecstasy, and caused more deaths. During the same time period, PMA also showed up in Europe, mainly in Austria, Denmark, and Germany, where it also caused numerous deaths. In all cases the PMA was sold as ecstasy, and the victims of PMA poisoning all believed they were ingesting ecstasy, unaware of the PMA present in their pills.
Since PMA is less expensive to obtain than ecstasy, manufacturers may “cut” ecstasy pills with PMA, or replace ecstasy entirely. The manufacturer then sells the altered pills as ecstasy to individual drug dealers who are usually unaware of the PMA content of their merchandise. PMA can easily be passed off as ecstasy on the drug market due to its similar stimulant and hallucinogenic effects, and its identical appearance to ecstasy pills in size, color, and black market logos. Most of the pills that caused death in the United States carried the Mitsubishi logo, but PMA is present in some pills with other logos as well. Since the ecstasy dealers themselves are often unaware of PMA in their stock, using a “trusted source” of ecstasy pills is not a safeguard against PMA poisoning. This substitution of PMA in ecstasy tablets is an added danger for club drug users, and is causing alarm both within and outside of the United States.

Leave a comment

You have to be logged in, to leave a comment.